Lady Tritons Head Into Playoffs with ‘Intensity’


Meghan Yakel, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

The NDA girls basketball team has made it to the state tournament at the Resch Center a multitude of times in the past. Seven times to be exact. This year, the girls are not settling for anything less. They are working extra hard everyday at practice and in games to achieve their goal of making it back to the Resch to win the gold ball.

“We are taking it one day at a time, one game at a time. We are making sure we focus on the game aspect as well as staying a close-knit team,” said senior shooting guard Peighton Milton.

The girls admit that even though they were not able to accomplish making it to state last year, they do not feel like there is a lot of pressure on them to make it this year, just high expectations. They keep state in the back of their minds but try not to acknowledge the pressure of getting there.

Senior Kaycee Gierczak believes success in past playoffs can be a building block for the team.  “Being able to look back at them, maybe watching them or remembering them helps us with things we need to do,” she said.  “Our playoff run won’t be easy, but if we play strong and like we are capable of, we should do just fine.”

“We are a team of mostly seniors and that comes with a lot of people expecting us to carry the team. Most teams aren’t a fan of us so we have to come ready to play every game because everyone wants to beat us,” said Milton.

Gierczak believes the team’s size throws them into the role of underdog. “We are much smaller than most teams,” she said.  The Eau-Claire bound player also suggested the underdog role can lead to the kind of intensity needed to get back to the Resch Center.

“In these last couple games our intensity has been way up,” she said.  “It hit us all of a sudden that it’s playoff time and we do not want to lose.”

The girls basketball team is very different this year than it was last year. They say the team chemistry is a lot better. Everyone is in it to win it and they all have the same goal.

“We all know our roles really well, and we just want to play for each other and not for ourselves,” said Milton. The girls communicate a lot better and know how to read each other. They have grown to appreciate what each person brings to the game and are grateful for what each other does.

“When you practice and play together six days a week for 2+ hours a day you really create a bond with everyone,” said Milton.

The team admits that they all trust each other and their dynamic is like a big family. “Our coach has mentioned how fun it has been to coach us this year because we do get along so well, and you can see that in how we cheer each other on or give tips to other players,” said Milton.

Gierczak echoed that sentiment:  “We play for each other.  Our team motto this year is play as one.  We all know everyone on this team is good and is able to do well in a game.  We are all happy for each other.”

The team is led by six seniors: Lizza Opichka (captain), Maddie Reitz, Emily Johnson, Ashley Laskowski, Gierczak and Milton.

The girls basketball team’s record is currently 16-5, and they start playoffs next Friday, February 23, at NDA.  Their opponent is expected to be Ashwaubenon.